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When our relationship with money shifts from scarcity to abundance, from hoarding to generosity, everything financial in our life shifts in unexpected life-giving ways.
It’s pretty simple: give money. Open your wallet and give cash to the person who needs it. Enter your credit or debit card number online in support of your friend’s charity walk/run/bike ride. Pull out your check book and return the envelope from the international NGO fighting poverty you received in the mail. Financially support your local library, the Girl Scout troop, global anti-hunger initiatives, the Red Cross, your faith community, environmental groups, you name it. Give.
When it comes to following Jesus, there is very little that is simple. Some might argue that the two things Jesus commanded his followers to do—love God and love neighbor—are in essence simple. Yet being in relationship with others, God included, is never simple. People are complicated. Being in relationship with money, however, can be very simple. Money has no feelings. It’s just paper—and in most cases now it’s not even paper. It’s just an abstract number on a screen. Click the button, swipe the card, open the wallet. I promise, money won’t resist.
The vast majority of Americans, including myself, have more than enough money to meet their basic needs. Globally, we are the richest in the world. Yet, here’s the rub: the richer you are, the less likely you are to share your resources, especially financial resources. Sociologists have proven it over and over again through careful statistical research: the rich give a significantly smaller percentage of their income away than the poor. Let that proven sociological trend shame you. Recently, the women’s international soccer team from Trinidad and Tobago arrived in the US for a World Cup qualifying match. They didn’t have enough money for breakfast. American coach Randy Waldrum posted a plea on Twitter and by day’s end the team raised over $9k. Who was one of the biggest donors? The rival Haitian National team who donated all of the $1,316 it had collected through fundraising. Yes, the team from the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The poor have sympathy for the poor.
This sociological trend is simple to reverse in your own life. Begin by recognizing that your bank account is not yours any more than the tree in your front yard. Instead, accept that every dollar you earn or are given is a gift and its source is none other than God. Take an inventory of all you have. Give thanks for the abundance in your life, instead of cataloguing your material desires. Embrace abundance, reject scarcity. Give generously and often.
I am positive some will disregard this blog, or even suggest I have no right to talk about money. To this I would say two things. First, I do have a right to talk about money. I am a christian pastor and the number one thing Jesus talks about is money. Second, I am a mother of three, living in one of the most expensive places in the U.S. with a mortgage, car payments, orthodontist bills, and more. I know the pressures of balancing a checkbook and scrounging for money at the end of the month. I also know the deep joy of giving. I have discovered that financial generosity is always met with unexpected blessings.
What does that mean? An example: my husband and I were barely making our mortgage, but I was determined we would not stop giving to the charities we supported and our church. I doggedly wrote checks to our favorite organizations. Then our lawn mower broke. There was no money. The next day, a friend showed up with an old lawn mower, not knowing we needed one. You can dismiss this story. You can wonder if I’m sounding more like an evangelical christian than a progressive one. But it happened and I’m grateful.
Every faithful Christian I know, who has a deep and mature spiritual life, is financially generous and can tell similar stories to the one I wrote of above. When our relationship with money shifts from scarcity to abundance, from hoarding to generosity, everything financial in our life shifts in unexpected life-giving ways.
Give. Really, it’s that simple.
Rev. Abigail A Henrich (ehm!) is an ordained minister who earned her stripes at Princeton Theological Seminary and Colgate University. That said, Abby is really a mother-pastor-spouse who lives in a kinetic state of chaos as she moves from her many vocations: folding laundry, preaching, returning phone calls, sorting lunch boxes, answering e-mails, and occasionally thinking deep thoughts in the shower. Unabashedly she is a progressive Christian who believes some shaking up has got to happen in the church.